The Talmud in the beginning of the sixth chapter of Masechet Berachot seeks to find the source that blessings are required for food. At one point in this adventure, the Talmud concludes that there is one available exposition to teach us the requirement of blessings, but if that is the case then we would only know the requirement of an after-blessing but not a before-blessing. The Talmud then explains that we would be able to derive the requirement for a before-blessing using a kal vachomer from the requirement for an after-blessing:

אי נמי יליף גזרה שוה אשכחן לאחריו לפניו מנין הא לא קשיא דאתיא בקל וחומר כשהוא שבע מברך כשהוא רעב לא כל שכן

And even if he does avail himself of a gezerah shawah, while we are satisfied that a blessing is required after it, whence do we learn that it is required [before partaking]? — This is no difficulty. We derive it by argument a fortiori: If he says a blessing when he is full, how much more so ought he to do so when he is hungry?

(Soncino translation)

This seems to be assuming that it is more likely for there to be a requirement for a before-blessing than for there to be a requirement for an after-blessing. Thus if there is a requirement for an after-blessing (based on the one available exposition) then there would certainly be a requirement for a before-blessing.

But if that is the case, then perhaps there is only a requirement for a before-blessing and not an after-blessing. How can we assign the one available exposition to be a source for an after-blessing? That exposition should be applied to require a before-blessing, since if we have a choice between which should be required it would be a before-blessing. Once that is true there should be no source left to tell us that an after-blessing is required (except by bread which has an explicit verse)!

  • I am aware that Tosafos thinks it’s not a real kal vachoner. – Alex Feb 10 '20 at 2:18
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    Don't forget that the torah explicitly says ve'achalta, vesavata, uveiractecha, eat,be sated and say the bracha. Therefore the torah requires the after bracha. – sabbahillel Feb 10 '20 at 2:24
  • @sabbahillel That applies to bread (and later in the sugya to shivas haminim as well). – Alex Feb 10 '20 at 2:27
  • IMSMC the Talmud is not suggesting that blessings other than Birkat Hamazon are biblical in nature. Nonetheless, we can derive at a rabbinic level, directly from the words of the verse, the concept of an after-blessing. Likewise, we can (rabbinically) apply a fortiori argument for both satiation from bread and from other foods. – Loewian Feb 10 '20 at 5:19
  • @Loewian Are you saying that the Gemara knew the entire time that there is a beracha acharona d’rabanan for all foods based on ואכלת? – Alex Feb 10 '20 at 13:30

Great question! I think that is what רש"י ד"ה אשכחן לאחריו (and תוס' תינח) there is explaining, that the only kind of ברכה that we find in the תורה is the ברכה אחרונה of ברכת המזון for bread, therefore we can only establish the פסוק to be referring to such a type of ברכה that we already know exists.

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    Cf. the Rashba there: מסתברא דהכי פירושו אשכחן לאחריו כלומר מכל מקום מכאן אין ללמוד אלא ברכה אחת או לפניו או לאחריו וכיון שכן נוקמא לאחריו דנלמוד סתום מן המפורש שחייבה תורה ברכה לשבעת המינים בהדיא לאחריהם כדכתיב ואכלת ושבעת וברכת I suppose this could mean what you're saying, though it could also mean that (only) all other things being equal we would follow the precedent. – Alex Feb 10 '20 at 3:01
  • @Alex Seems to be the latter. bBrachot 21a has a ברכה ראשונה for Torah מדאורייתא, using Deut 32:3, so it's not that the only kind of ברכה from the Torah is a ברכה אחרונה (at least, if you take these two gemaras together). – magicker72 Feb 10 '20 at 6:01

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